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Birmingham City vs. Bolton Wanderers (12.03.2011 – recap)

Recap

Birmingham City Birmingham City 2 – 3 Bolton Wanderers Bolton

Saturday, March 12th 2011, 13.45 CET

This was a very intense game and I nearly lost the bet I had on Bolton Wanderers. But luckily, Bolton won with a late goal from Chung-Yong Lee. I’m surprised at Birmingham for holding their ground that well, especially with so many players missing. Although Bolton won (as expected), I’m impressed by Birmingham’s performance, to be honest: they came back in the game twice! So now Bolton gets to go in the semis of the FA Cup and play Stoke City. But I’m actually looking forward to the other semi: Manchester City vs Manchester United 🙂

 

The first goal came early in the match after a slow start, and it was one of the Bolton players to score it: Johan Elmander scores from inside the box, following a pass received from Klasnic. It was the 22nd minute. The execution was steady and precise, and didn’t give a hint about the fact that the Swede hadn’t scored for the past 10 games. The Trotters challenged Birmingham’s goal a little earlier as well. In the 18th minute, a good combination of passes among Bolton’s players left Stuart Holden with a good position, but he didn’t handle the ball well.

 

Birmingham’s injury problems before the game got worse in the minutes to come. So bad, in fact, that they had to take 2 players off the field in the following 8 minutes after the goal. The first player to go out was Martin Jiranek, replaced in the 27th minute after a foul by Kevin Davies. Then they had to replace the captain, Barry Ferguson who was playing with a broken rib. The replacements were Liam Ridgewell and Nathan Redmond.

 

Things suddenly got better for Birmingham, and just before the break. After a faulty clearance by David Wheater, Cameron Jerome picks the ball and gets it past Jussi Jaaskelainen with a low shot. This was in the 38th minute, and the 1-1 score remained until break time.

 

The second half started with a penalty claim by Bolton after a ball hit Curtis Davies‘s hand inside the penalty area after seven minutes of play. The referee ruled that he was pushed and a foul was awarded instead. A few minutes later the other side would claim a penalty at Jaaskelainen’s clearance, but the goalkeeper touched the ball first. In the 61st minute, a minute after his entrance on the field, Cung-Yong Lee cleared the ball off the line! Nevertheless, Bolton gained advantage after 66 minutes of play through a penalty scored by Kevin Davies.

 

When the game seemed settled, Phillips profited from a gap in the defense left by Wheater who went after a hopeless ball. He then volleyed the ball 20 yards from the goal and scored a beautiful goal in the 80th minute! And the same Wheater made a mistake towards the very end of the game, putting Bolton in advantage: after badly clearing a free kick, the ball eventually ended at Davies, who headed it back to the goalkeeper. However, Lee was there to head it in, and the celebrations started in the 89th minute!

 

Overall an enjoyable game, and brave resistance from the Birmingham side. Lots of errors in the defense, with Wheater being a disappointing replacement for injuree Zat Knight. I had bet 3 units on Bolton at 2.62 odds and thus won 4.86 units! Great start of the weekend plays!

 

Sevilla FC vs. FC Barcelona (12.03.2011)

Prediction

Sevilla Sevilla FC vs. FC Barcelona Barcelona

Sunday, March 13th 2011, 21.00 CET

 

Every game of Barcelona is a true delight to watch, really. I did watch their last game against Arsenal on Tuesday (Barca won 3-1 on Camp Nou), and what a match that was! So I could skip this one… But I can’t miss out on at least a bet when such teams go head to head.

 

Although they had quite a fight against Arsenal on Tuesday, this doesn’t mean Barcelona will fight as strong against Sevilla. The match was only 5 days ago, so a lot of Barca’s players need some rest. This is why I wouldn’t go with a specific team in this game. But maybe the following analysis might help you make your pick.

 

SevillaSevilla FC, although they started poorly this season in La Liga, they’re traditionally one of the Spanish teams with European aspirations. They won the UEFA cup 2 times in a row (and quite recently) between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. And they’re squad is truly international: out of their 26 players, only 9 are Spanish.

 

However, despite their previous honours, this season is not something to be proud of: they failed to get into the group stages of Champions League (lost 3-5 to the Portuguese from Braga) and they’re on the 8th position in La Liga. That’s not going to get them to play in Europe next season! Surely the coach Gregorio Manzano is aware of this and he’s doing his best to remediate the situation. And he could do so, to be honest: he’s got quality players at his disposal, like Frederic Kanoute, Jesus Navas or Luis Fabiano.

 

Overall, there is a clear difference between Sevilla FC this season and the same team last season. In 2009-2010 they barely managed to end on 4th place, and they lost a lot of players over the summer. Jose Angel Crespo, Adriano, Prieto and Tom de Mul are some of them. They also brought in some players, but as we can see from their current performance, they don’t really match the old team.

 

Let’s look at the players now:

  • Luis Fabiano: some newspapers report that he already played his last game for the Andalusians and he’s ready to go home to play for Sao Paulo. But maybe, and I hope this as well, he’ll be used today, since Sevilla really needs his talent if they want to earn any point. Maybe playing alongside Frederic Kanoute would be a good strategy.
  • Andres Palop, Sevilla’s goalkeeper is doubful ahead of tonight’s game. And without their main goalkeeper, it would be suicide against the quick Barca attack.
  • Diego Perotti, Sevilla’s midfielder is another doubtful player for tonight’s game.

BarcelonaFC Barcelona, now there’s nothing to say here that hasn’t been said before. One of the best teams in the world, and coached by one of the best coach in the world, Barcelona are currently leaders of La Liga. They have a comfortable cushon of 7 points difference from the 2nd placed Real Madrid, but they should know better not to sit comfortably on it for the rest of the season. If they win here in Sevilla, then in Villareal and finally in Madrid, Guardiola’s team will finish first this season.

Barcelona come after a great match on Camp Nou against Arsenal on Tuesday, March 8th. They won the game 3-1 and overturned the score set in England of 2-1. They’re now in the quarter finals of the Champions League and from what they’ve been playing this season, there’s a big chance that they’ll bring the cup to Spain. But they had to fight for that result against the British, and now they’re really tired. They can’t go full force against Sevilla tonight.

Unlike Sevilla, Barcelona acquired some real talent this summer, most notably David Villa from Valencia, whose transfer has really paid off so far this season. Then there’s Adriano, whom Barcelona bought from Sevilla and it’s likely that we see him for the first time tonight playing against his former team. It’s not at all a bed of roses for the Catalans though: they lost Thiery Henry, Rafael Marquez and Toure. All in all, personally I think Barcelona won’t be missing them too much tonight.

There are other problems as well for the Catalans: apart from the team’s fatigue following the challenging Champions League game, a lot of Barcelona’s top players were away on international duty this week and will most probably not be used tonight. The list includes: Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. And if these players might not be used, let’s see who will certainly not appear tonight:

  • Jose Manuel Pinto, Barcelona’s goalkeeper is out with a thigh injury. The team will most probably go with Victor Valdes, who’s just returned from his vacation
  • Several Spanish top players, who served this week for the international team, might be allowed to rest, although I’m not sure who.

I’m not sure who to go with in this game. I wouldn’t risk going with one team or the other, so I’m going to bet on the number of goals scored. Since in the past 4 games played between these two teams there have been 4 or more goals, I’m going to go with Over 3.5 goals for 3 units on Bwin at 2.35 odds.

Over 3.5 goals for 3 units

 

Birmingham City vs. Bolton Wanderers (12.03.2011)

 

Prediction

Birmingham City Birmingham City vs. Bolton Wanderers Boton

Saturday, March 12th 2011, 13.45 CET

 

FA Cup action today and I had to choose between this game and that of Manchester United and Arsenal. I decided I’ll just enjoy the derby and stake my money on this, easier to predict game. Sure, bookie odds make it difficult to pick a team in this one (as I’m writing, odds are 2.85 – 3.25 – 2.35), but they are really attractive, and I think that with a bit of research I can find the winner.

 

Birmingham CityBirmingham City, a team placed 17th in the Premier League (that’s just safe of relegation) will be receiving Bolton Wanderers today. I’d say Birmingham should be more concerned on staying away from relegation in Premier League than on doing well in the FA Cup’s sixth round today.

Plus, they already won the Carling Cup this season, and I think for a team like Birmingham, winning a cup and staying clear of relegation is enough this season.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t have high standards, but let’s take a look at the potential absentees today:

  • Lee Bowyer, midfielder, scored 3 goals this season
  • David Bentley, midfielder, scored 1 goal this season
  • Keith Fahey, another midfielder with 1 goal scored this season
  • Riam Ridgewell, the stone in Birmingham’s defense with 4 goals scored so far
  • Craig Gardner, their 2nd top goalscorer with 7 goals
  • Nikola Zigik, their current top goalscorer with 8 goals

And if those are potential absentees, let’s look at the certain absentees:

  • Stephen Carr, the captain and playmaker of Birmingham City
  • Alexander Hleb, the Bielorussian midfielder
  • Scott Dann, defender, 2 goals scored
  • James McFadden, striker

All the potential absentees are most probably going to be rested today in hopes of putting them to better use in the Premier League. Right now, Birminghham City cannot afford to go in this match with everything they’ve got!

BoltonBolton Wanderers, placed 7th in Premier League has certainly had a better run this season than Birmingham, despite the Carling Cup. They will be missing striker Daniel Sturridge who performed well for Bolton in previous matches. Instead of him, coach Owen Coyle will probably send in Klasnic, with 6 goals so far this season.

Bolton don’t have many absentees, and those they do have are not vital to the team:

  • Daniel Sturridge, striker
  • Sam Ricketts, midfielder
  • Ricardo Gardner, winger
  • Jlloyd Samuel, defender
  • Zat Knight, centre back

I really don’t think Bolton will miss these players today. Most of them played very few times or not at all this season. And with only one loss in the last 9 competitive matches, the team has a very good morale, which I’m sure will help them today.

As you can probably tell by now, I favour Bolton Wanderers to win. Odds for them winning are attractive at 2.62 on Bwin, so it’s a go!

Bolton Wanderers to win for 3 units